Cynthia Tatman, 56, Fatally Struck on Stretch of Devon With No Sidewalks

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.25.56 PM
The 5800 block of West Devon, looking east. Police reported the crash site as the 6300 block, which has sidewalks. But ABC footage shows it actually took place several blocks east, on a stretch like this, with a 40 mph speed limit and no sidewalks, close to the North Branch Trail. Image: Google Street View

56-year-old Cynthia Tatman was fatally struck early Tuesday morning while jogging in the Norwood Park neighborhood on a four-lane, high-speed stretch of Devon Avenue.

At around 7:05 a.m., Tatman was running east in a westbound travel lane of Devon next to Caldwell Woods, police said. She lived on the 5800 block of North Navarre Avenue, and neighbors told ABC she jogged in the area regularly.

According to investigators, a westbound driver swerved to avoid hitting Tatman. However, they said the next motorist, driving a tan Honda CR-V SUV, did not have time to avoid the jogger and struck her. Tatman was transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The driver, whose SUV sustained front-end damage and a smashed windshield, stayed on the scene and was not immediately cited. Major Accidents is currently working to determine if the motorist will receive a citation, according to Police News Affairs.

The police stated that the crash took place on the 6300 block of Devon, which has has residences to the south, a 30 mph speed limit and sidewalks. However, footage from the ABC report shows that the crash site was actually on a stretch of Devon with forest preserves on both sides, a 40 mph speed limit, and no sidewalks. The ABC footage also shows that it was location where the North Branch Trail closely parallels Devon.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 3.01.04 PM
Tatman lived on the 5800 block of North Navarre. Since ABC footage showing the crash took place on a stretch of Devon with no sidewalks, close to the North Branch Trail, indicates the location was no further west than the 5800 block. Image: Google Maps

This indicates that the crash happened no further west than the 5800 block. Since there are no intersections on Devon between Melvina Avenue and Caldwell Avenue, it’s relatively difficult to judge addresses on this stretch. Presumably the officer who filled out the crash report made an incorrect guess about the location.

It’s not clear why Tatman chose to go jogging on a high-speed segment of Devon with no sidewalks, rather than run on the car-free trail.

Another factor in the crash may have been high-speed driving. This stretch of Devon is a rare surface road within Chicago with a 40 mph speed limit, rather than the city’s default 30 mph limit. The lack of intersections encourages drivers to go even faster. Presumably, the speed of the drivers involved in the incident is one detail the police are currently trying to ascertain in order to determine if any citations are warranted..

Update 8/25 3:15 p.m.: I originally reported that the crash took place on the 6300 block of West Devon, as stated by Police News Affairs and all other local news outlets. After a Streetsblog reader pointed out the discrepancy between the CPD’s account and the ABC footage, I updated the post.

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 16 (seven were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 4 (one was a hit-and-run crash)

  • planetshwoop

    The limit is 40mph, but this area is sort of like Lake Shore Drive–no one drives even close to the posted limit. I have no idea if that played a role here, but it is a scary fast road.

  • Mcass777

    I think I have seen this woman – often! I live on the other side of the forest preserve and I am almost certain this woman also ran on Caldwell along the forest preserve NOT IN THE FOREST BUT IN THE STREET AND AGANST TRAFFIC. She has been the subject of many posts on Nextdoor edgebrook . She had been stopped by drivers who pleaded her to move to the trail or sidewalk. All she did was to stay in the street. runnng against traffic refusing to tallk back or interact – often she wore black on dark monings. She had issues if this is the same woman I saw he and knew this was coming. Please check this out – she was not sane, I am petty sure this is here

  • Bernard Finucane

    I don’t know why she was in the street, but if you are walking on the street, you should walk on the left so you can see the oncoming traffic.

  • Mcass777

    She ignored sidewalks and ignored pleas from people to use them! On Caldwell there is no sidewalk on the west side of the street but there is a gravel strip, she did not use that, just ran ON THE ROAD SIDE of the white line! Wearing black, running on the street in the dark, this was going to happen

  • Mcass777

    For reference, I saw this woman many times, usually between 5 and 6am running with traffic just between the google map “N Caldwell” and the white line. It is a 4 lane street. In the morning when the sun was at the right angle, you really could not see her as you drove east. Really sad.

  • Mcass777

    Sorry here is the picture

  • Pat

    This is more a comment on Devon in general:
    A broad, straight, 4-lane road with only 2 stoplights from Central to Lincoln invites speeding.

  • Anne A

    Speeding has been a problem there for decades.

  • JeffParkNIMBY

    Regardless of who was at fault here, the whole area around the forest preserve is speeding central. Not only Devon, but also Caldwell and Central. This seems to be a no mans land for police enforcing the speed limit, since it may technically be controlled by the Cook County Forest Preserve Police.

    The Forest Preserve and CDOT need to work together to decrease speeds on Central, Caldwell, and Devon. They need to also create safe spaces to cross those streets, as they are all inexplicably 4 lane streets, without necessarily the traffic volume to justify them.

  • Pat

    Let’s clear up two things:
    7:05am is not “dark”.
    What report said she was wearing black? None of them.

  • skyrefuge

    The police-reported location of this crash is wrong. And thus (through no fault of your own) most of your speculation doesn’t apply.

    The ABC7 video ( ) clearly shows that the crash happened some 1500ft *east* of the river, more like the 5800 block of Devon. That is some 500 feet east of where the North Branch Trail comes parallel with Devon, so if she had wanted to make the easy switch from the road to the trail, she had ample opportunity. So it’s impossible that it had anything to do with asphalt-vs.-concrete (both the road and the trail are asphalt), or running in a parking lane (the parking lane is almost half a mile west).

    Last Friday around 7:30am, my girlfriend and I were finishing a bike ride on the North Branch Trail and as we waited to head west on Devon at the Milwaukee intersection, we saw a 50-something woman jogging west on the sidewalk on the north side of Devon (a sidewalk exists there near the forest preserve parking lot). Her left arm was up and giving us the finger for reasons we couldn’t comprehend, but then as she crossed Devon (in the crosswalk) to head south on Milwaukee/Nagle, we saw that she kept her finger raised to the cars she was crossing in front of. So she was apparently just and equal-opportunity finger-giver.

    I have no idea if this was the deceased, but many of the comments I’ve read from others who were more familiar with this jogger make it fairly likely.

    It’s annoying as hell to me that Devon is an unsafe and impossible way to cross the river in anything but a motor vehicle, and particularly annoying that the North Branch Trail, which would be a perfect biking/walking alternate, takes that completely out-of-the-way jog up north. I would love to see a path alternate (or just a shoulder) put in that would parallel Devon for the entire stretch between Milwaukee and Caldwell.

    But just like the Lisa Kuivinen case, where it made me squeamish to see it being leveraged as a tool for improvement in bike lane blockage (since that crash actually had nothing to do with bike lane blockage), it would make me equally squeamish to see this case being leveraged as a tool to improve bike/ped access on Devon, since the lack of safe alternates seems to have had little to do with this particular case.

  • Mcass777

    I have seen her run year round in fall, winter and spring, it was barely light and she was usually in black . Many of my neighbors have reported her to police and there are numerous reports with Niles and Chicago Police on her approach to safety. If anyone tried to approach her it was “f you”

  • Pat

    I’m not questioning her being in the roadway, because I don’t understand it. The fact she wore black in the past and ran when it was dark, or both, has no bearing on this incident.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    You’re correct, the ABC footage does show that the crash happened further east. Thanks, I’ve added an update.

  • Brandon Franz

    Sounds like she had a death wish.

  • First may Ms Tatman “rest in peace.” To the family and friends I am sorry for your loss.

    “…it made me squeamish to see it being leveraged as a tool for improvement in bike lane[s] …”

    And yet… Listen, I don’t mean to paint a person with potential emotional or even mental struggles as a martyr for a cause. She was not a street vendor in Tunis who set themself on fire and sparked the overthrow of a dictator. And yet…

    She clearly saw herself as a militant pedestrian in a war against speeding drivers. And really haven’t we all at least had that mindset if only as a fantasy and if only very briefly. The city of Evanston at some Sheridan Road crosswalks provides little red plastic flags for pedestrians who are afraid of asserting their crosswalk rights. That is an encouragement of militant pedestrianism.

    Certainly in the Kuivien case we had a model biker and here we have someone who is seen too aggressive in their approach. So I guess I could see squeamishness in having to align with someone that radical.

    And yet if some good can come of her death, I say yes lets use it to the fullest.

  • Mcass777

    you mean Milwaukee.

  • Mcass777

    I was describing her attire so those reading this post might be able to connect seeing her seen her in the past. Also describing her choice of gear gives background on the ability to be seen or not seen. As for the speeding traffic on this stretch, yes it is a issue. Using this death as an agent for change is a little odd because she had access to a great trail, that for years, she ignored at her own peril. If someone goes for a swim and then drowns in Lake Michigan in January does not mean we should put out a call for year round lifeguards protection. There are better ways to protest speeding traffic but no one can be sure this was even her issue or cause.

  • runningobserver

    Did we ever consider the possibility that ABC got it wrong, not the police?

  • Pat

    No. I’m speaking of the Devon east of the NBT.

  • skyrefuge

    I’m not sure how ABC7’s video footage of the scene could be “wrong”. It shows the Honda CR-V roped off and sitting exactly at the spot currently shown at the top of this article. That spot is almost half a mile from the reported 6300 W. Devon. Maybe the crash DID happen at 6300 W. Devon, the driver made a sudden U-turn, drove east half a mile down Devon, made *another* U-turn and then came to a stop. But I’d say it’s just a bit more likely that the police report was an error.

  • skyrefuge

    Enforcement would be futile along those roads, because the existing speeds reflect the “natural” speed that people feel comfortable driving at. The roads would need to be completely redesigned in order to have any substantial effect on speeds, and that would be difficult, since it’s largely the lack of driveways, intersections, and other road users that contribute to the comfort with speed, and those features are inherent to roads that cut through/along forest preserves and rivers.

    A road diet on Devon would be nice (replace outer lanes with bike lanes), since it narrows down to 2 lanes west of Milwaukee anyway, but that might be problematic because instead of the queue for the westbound merge now happening in relatively unused forest preserve area, it would have to occur at Caldwell/Lehigh/Central/MD-N tracks, which wreck that intersection even more than it already is.

    A road diet on Central might be more reasonable, since it necks down to one lane fairly quickly on either side of the forest preserve anyway. Though politically that would be tough since an expensive brand new bike path was just put in right there.

    Caldwell is US-14 and 4 lanes for (hundreds of?) miles in either direction, so that one is probably a non-starter.

  • Mcass777

    Central, Lemont, Cicero, Pulaski, Lincoln, I think.

  • Pat

    Ah, missed Pulaski.

  • Anne A

    Understood. She chose to take this risk on a regular basis.

  • tooch

    that’s a dangerous stretch of road, even for motorists. i was in an uber x that reached 80mph through the forest preserve. reported them to Uber and asked to them slow down. it’s a true speedway.

  • JeffParkNIMBY

    While all those things may be true, it’s exactly the inside the box thinking that got us here in the first place.

  • neroden

    Well, she had the legal right to walk down the street, and was doing everything prescribed by law. Someone should get those damn speeding cars out of her way.


  • Mcass777

    She had a right to walk/run on the street but was advised by police and neighbors that, in the interest of safety, she should use the sidewalk on the other side of the street. It was advice and she kept running on the street. Slow or fast cars, this was an accident waiting to happen – you don’t expect a jogger running in the lane of traffic, and I do mean IN the lane of traffic. tragic loss

  • Robert Holstein

    The morning before she died I saw her running southbound in the middle of Caldwell Avenue (just north of Howard Street) at around 7am. I was driving northbound directly at her but instead of swerving out of her way, I stopped my vehicle to block her from running in the street, which forced her to run on the grass. I rolled down my window, and told her she was going to get herself killed. She raised her hand and flicked me the middle finger.

    2 weeks prior to that I saw her running down the middle of Howard Street while extending her arm to “flick off” several drivers who were honking their horn at her to get off the street.

    I’m relieved that nobody else got killed because of her actions.

    There is a forest preserve running & biking trail within 1 block of where she died. It seems like she avoided this trail and one can only wonder if this was a form of suicide.


Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, August 24

Cynthia Tatman, 56, Fatally Struck While Jogging on Devon Near Caldwell Woods (ABC) The Tribune Looks at Factors Behind Nationwide Increase in Traffic Deaths Listener Comments on Yasmeen Schuller’s & John’s Discussion of Bike Safety (WBEZ) The CTA Gets Read for TOD-Driven Increases in Ridership Along Blue Line (DNA) Loyola Students Convert Cooking Oil to […]